FROM THE ASHES by Métis Canadian Author JESSE THISTLE has become One of my Favorite Books of All Time. ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK. Open Worldwide

Title: FROM THE ASHES

Subtitle: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way

Author: JESSE THISTLE

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, ADDICTION, MENTAL HEALTH, MÉTIS, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, HOMELESSNESS

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: AUGUST 6, 2019

ISBN: 9781982101213

Price: $24.99 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, whose tough-love attitudes quickly resulted in conflicts. Throughout it all, the ghost of Jesse’s drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling with all that had happened, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. Finally, he realized he would die unless he turned his life around.

In this heart-warming and heart-wrenching memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful past, the abuse he endured, and how he uncovered the truth about his parents. Through sheer perseverance and education—and newfound love—he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family.

An eloquent exploration of the impact of prejudice and racism, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help us find happiness despite the odds.
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MY REVIEW:

FROM THE ASHES is written by the uber-talented Métis-Cree Canadian author JESSE THISTLE. This is a touching and incredibly honest  memoir written by the man most people believed would not live long enough to straighten out his life.

Those people have been proven wrong and FROM THE ASHES tells Jesse’s life story so far.

FROM THE ASHES by Jesse Thistle is one of the most well written and honest memoirs I have ever had the pleasure to read.

Jesse is a Métis Canadian and although he never once blames his situation on colonization, his story and the situations his family was forced into by the Canadian government are perfect illustrations of it’s cause and effect.

Jesse’s memoir is written with bone-jarring honesty and will get under the reader’s skin. Only a sociopath would be able to read this book and not feel the power of the written word.

This is the story of a young man who turned to drugs and alcohol to try to push down the pain he felt inside. It is a story that seems bleak at times, but ultimately shows the strength of the human spirit. It is the story of the struggle, literally, for Jesse’s survival.

Without giving away too much of Jesse’s story, I want potential readers to know that this memoir is one that will remain with them long, long after the final page. To go from homeless to becoming a celebrated memoirist is a feat worthy of legend.

Jesse Thistle might not agree, but I see him as a modern day Theseus, fighting his way out of the labyrinth of poverty and Addiction.

This book is one of my Top Ten Best Books of the Modern Era.

To win a softcover copy of this book, leave a comment on this post, then click HERE for ways to get additional entries into the Giveaway. OPEN WORLDWIDE. ENDS FEBRUARY 29, 2020.

You can also enter to win this book on my Instagram account: http://www.instagram.com/Amiesbookreviews
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photography Credit:
LUCIE THISTLE

JESSE THISTLE is Métis-Cree, from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

He is an assistant professor in Métis Studies at York University in Toronto.

He won a Governor General’s Academic Medal in 2016, and is a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Scholar and a Vanier Scholar.

He lives in Toronto with his wife, Lucie.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

AWARDS WON BY JESSE:

  • Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Award – Ph. D., Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation. 2016 – 2019 ($240,000; $40,000 per year of study, plus $20,000 annual research and travel budget).
  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS SSHRC) – Ph.D., Canadian Institute of Health Research and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 2016 – 2019 ($150,000 – $50,000 per year of study).
  • Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) – Doctoral of Philosophy, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 2016 – 2019 ($105,000 – $35,000 per year of study). (Declined because he took the Trudeau Award and the Vanier CGS SSHRC Award).
  • Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) – Master’s, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 2015 ($17,500).
  • 2016 Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada Post-Secondary Student of the Year Award—Nation-wide. (Prestige).
  • Dan Watt Scholarship (Awarded to the Master’s level graduate student with the top GPA entering Waterloo’s Master’s program) – Master’s, Waterloo University. 2015 ($1,500).
  • President’s Graduate Scholarship, University of Waterloo, 2015 ($10,000).
  • Odessa Essay Prize for the Study of Canada (York University, university wide). 2015 ($1000).
  • The Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award, York University. 2015 (Prestige: Name inscribed on Vari Hall Rotunda, Keele Campus).
  • The Dr. James Wu Prize Best Honours Thesis/Major Research Paper for York University’s 3rd Annual Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Fair 2015 ($1000).
  • Miziwe Biik: Aboriginal Education Award, 2015 ($1000), 2014 ($1000), 2013 ($2000).
  • Desmond Hart Memorial Essay Award Winner. History; York University, 4000 level, 2014 ($200).
  • Indispire: Building Better Indigenous Futures Post-Secondary Education Award, 2015 ($7500), 2014 ($5000), 2013 ($6900) & 2012 ($2000).
  • The Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies Essay Prize Winner, York University, 3000 level Anthropology, 2014 ($100).
  • York University Faculty Association Foundation Undergraduate (YUFA) Scholarship, highest cumulative grade point average in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies. GPA 8.59 and Major GPA 8.73. 2014 ($3500).
  • International Scholar Laureate Nominee. Golden Key IHS: 2013.
  • Arthur Francis Williams Award in Canadian Studies, 2013 ($500).
  • Morris Krever History Prize Winner, History, York University. 2013 ($1000).
  • The Enbridge Inc. Scholarship Award, 2013 ($2365).
  • The Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Toronto Award Winner, History, York University. 2013 ($300).
  • William Westfall Canadian Studies Essay Prize, History, York University, 3000 level, 2013.
  • York PhD Graduate Scholarship, York University, 2017 ($3000).

Bursary Awards

  • York University Continuing Student Scholarship Bursary (given to students above 7.00 grade point average), 2014 ($768), 2013 ($576) & 2012 ($864).
  • Aboriginal PSET Bursary, York University, 2012 ($2600).
  • York University Undergrad Bursary, 2012 ($1010).

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TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOMELESSNESS AND/OR TO DOWNLOAD INFORMATION AS WELL AS LESSON PLANS, GO TO THE HOMELESS HUB:

RUST BELT FEMME by Raechel Anne Jolie is a 5 STAR MEMOIR candidly opening up the most intimate of details about her life. This is destined to reach the top of The New York Times Bestseller List

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Title: RUST BELT FEMME

Author: RAECHEL ANNE JOLIE

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, LGBTQ

Length: 150 PAGES

Publisher: BELT PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MARCH 10, 2020

ISBN: 9781948742634

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Raechel Anne Jolie’s early life in a working-class Cleveland exurb was full of race cars, Budweiser-drinking men covered in car grease, and the women who loved them.

After her father came home from his third-shift job, took the garbage out to the curb and was hit by a drunk driver, her life changed.

Raechel and her mother struggled for money: they were evicted, went days without utilities, and took their trauma out on one another. Raechel escaped to the progressive suburbs of Cleveland Heights, leaving the tractors and ranch-style homes home in favor of a city with vintage marquees, music clubs, and people who talked about big ideas.

It was the early 90s, full of Nirvana songs and chokers, flannel shirts and cut-off jean shorts, lesbian witches and local coffee shops.

Rust Belt Femme is the story of how these twin foundations—rural Ohio poverty and alternative 90s culture—made Raechel into who she is today: a queer femme with PTSD and a deep love of the Midwest.
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MY REVIEW:

“This story, then, is about growing up in poverty in rural Ohio, finding hope in the alternative culture I’d discovered in Cleveland, and how my complicated love for these people and these places is a tenacious part of everything I’ve done since leaving it. Every bit of it turned me into the queer femme feminist writer I am today…”

“In between [her childhood] and now are Northeast Ohio landmarks that left scars, sometimes like kisses and sometimes like razor blades.”

RUST BELT FEMME is a love letter to the good, the bad, and the Very Bad incidents, people and places which have coalesced, forming Raechel into the person and the destiny that had been hers all along.

Raechel’s candor is refreshing, and as such, her personality shines through with every word she writes. I have read reviews referring to the sometimes crude language she uses as inappropriate, but I have to disagree with that assessment. Raechel was raised in a blue collar home and the language she often uses in her book reflects that fact. A memoir can be written with lyrical prose of the very best kind and yet still be a flop with its intended readers. Why does this happen? I believe one word can sum up why a memoir either succeeds or fails; that word is AUTHENTICITY. Authenticity is (or should be) the goal of all memoir/auto-biographical authors. RUST BELT FEMME has authenticity in spades.

Having never heard of Raechel Anne Jolie before seeing the listing for this book on the NetGalley website, I began reading Rust Belt Femme with no preconceived notions of it’s content. Because of this, every new morsel of information was eagerly awaited and Raechel did not disappoint.

RUST BELT FEMME proves just how important childhood events are in the formation of the adult we will become. Raechel’s loss of her father figure at such a  tender age was the single event upon which her  childhood took a distinctly darker turn. Despite her family’s economic issues, she “… never doubted that [her] mom loved [her] more than anything, and that she would love [her] profoundly and without condition. There was never one instance when she made [her] feel like [she] had to change, not one second when she didn’t make it clear that [Raechel] was the most important thing to her in the world.”

In her Introduction, Raechel states: “… whether our neurology is burdened by trauma or not, I think most of us who are drawn to memoir are burdened with an incurable case of nostalgia.” I agree wholeheartedly and admit that I am afflicted with the exact nostalgia she is talking about, and in reading RUST BELT FEMME, that desire was 100% fulfilled.

I rate RUST BELT FEMME as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and highly recommend this book to all my fellow memoir lovers.

*Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

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FEMINIST KILLJOYS PODCAST

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Raechel Anne Jolie believes in astrology, the power of collective resistance, and meeting a deadline. She is, first and foremost, an educator and an activist dedicated to making this world a little bit better than she found it. But she is also: a cat-mom, a yogi, a witch, a Media and Gender Studies PhD, a vegan, a podcaster, and a writer.

Her writing has been featured in Bitch Magazine, Teen Vogue, Autostraddle (and more), and she’s been interviewed as an expert in her field for Rolling Stone, NPR, and the CBC. (If you’re interested in her academic work, you can check out her CV).

She also co-hosted/produced the Feminist Killjoys, PhD podcast with Dr. Melody Hoffmann. For three years, they brought smart and funny reflection to discussions on politics and pop culture.

Raechel is also queer AF, and a lot of her writing is about being femme and growing up poor. She also writes about: pop culture, politics, social movements, feminism, and health. If you’re into that sort of thing, she just might be your grrrrl.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS  

INSTAGRAM

INSTAGRAM – BELT PUBLISHING

TWITTER

SOUNDCLOUD  

FEMINIST KILLJOYS PODCAST

CHAPTERS

QUOTES I LOVED:

“A PhD and multiple major-city addresses can never change that being poor is written in my blood and my bones as much as it is sung from my tight skirts and cheap lipstick.”

“Being poor, really, became the building blocks of my gender; this embodied expression we in the queer community call femme. It’s a type of femininity that I have come to realize is inextricable from the shape of early poverty, the shades of the rural edges of Cleveland, and for me, the sound of punk.”

“I was seduced out of my poor ‘white trash’ town first into the arms of the artist culture on Coventry Road, then later by the punks in Lakewood.”

“… my heroes became the women who survived despite men’s absences. Whether the men were taken from homes by car accidents or jail or a restraining order, by the time I was five, I was surrounded almost entirely by resilient women.”

“We built, like layering bricks and cement, a home out of our love, the only thing sturdy on any given day. Our fights were hurricanes, our love though, indelible.”

“… we were using anger as a shield to protect us from facing deep hurt and immense fear in the face of scarcity. We’d chase it with tenderness because how else could we face the day? It was a Pyrrhic skill that I continue to carry with me… It was a terrible way to learn love, but it was better than not knowing love at all.”

“I remember … the flicker of the marquee mixed with a street lamp. It was a soft yellow-white. Muted but also vivid. It’s how I felt most days after that. My brain buzzing with potential – with what my life could, would, should be – but also deeply grounded in the present, in exactly who and where I was.”

Interviewed In

How to be an Ally to Trans People” 

“Orange is the new Black’s Instagram Chooses Fandom Over Social Justice” 

“Why May Day Continues to Capture the Hearts and Imaginations of Workers” 

​“Warning Labels on College Courses?”
On Point with Tom Ashbrook 

Selected Publications

Rag Queen Periodical 

“Over the Shoulders”  

INTOmore.com

“Boston League of Wicked Wrestlers” (profile)  

Inside Higher Ed ​

“How to Cope without a Full-Time Job Offer” 

The Huffington Post

“Buzz About Kristen Stewart’s Sexuality Tells Us a Lot About Society’s Discomfort with Bisexuality” 

Autostraddle

“The Riot Isn’t Over: 6 Movements that Map Militancy in LGBT History”  

The Body is Not an Apology

“5 ways to navigate your partner’s wealth during the holidays”

The Daily Dot

“It’s time to stop believing America’s biggest myth about welfare”


 

In Media Res

“Post-Feminism & the Dehumanization of Sex Workers in SNL’s Moet & Chandon Sketch” 

Mask Magazine

“High Risk: The Automation of Pretrial Detention” 

Scarleteen

“A sex-positive and transformative justice approach to #MeToo” 

The Huffington Post

“University Shamefully Orders the Arrest of Students Fight for a More Just University System”

“Five Things to Know About the Employment Non-Discrimination Act”    

HANDS UP by Stephen Clark has been released and is a story that seems ripped from the headlines. You NEED to check out this book

Title: HANDS UP

Author: STEPHEN CLARK

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS, SOCIAL THEMES

Length: 290 PAGES

Publisher: WiDō PUBLISHING

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947966-20-8

Rating: 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Officer Ryan Quinn, a rookie raised in a family of cops, is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now, with his career, reputation and freedom on the line, he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to confront his fears and biases and choose between conscience or silence.

Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student living in one of Philadelphia’s worst neighborhoods. She knows the chances of getting an indictment against the cop who killed her brother are slim. When she learns there’s more to the story than the official police account, Jade is determined, even desperate, to find out what really happened. She plans to get revenge by any means necessary.

Kelly Randolph, who returns to Philadelphia broke and broken after abandoning his family ten years earlier, seeks forgiveness while mourning the death of his son. But after he’s thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.

Ryan, Jade, and Kelly–three people from different worlds—are on a collision course after the shooting, as their lives interconnect and then spiral into chaos.

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MY REVIEW:

This is a timely novel because of the very real increase in the number of police shootings of unarmed, young black men in the United States.

HANDS UP begins with Tyrell Wakefield being shot by rookie police officer Ryan Quinn. According to the police, the young man had punched Ryan’s older partner and was attempting to grab his gun.

However, Tyrell’s sister, Jade, finds that story very unlikely, as does her mother. So, Jade is determined to find out what really happened.

When Jade’s maternal Aunt turns Tyrell’s death into a #BlackLivesMatter rallying cry, the press get ahold of the story and it becomes bigger than Jade ever expected. It also brings an unexpected person back into the lives of Jade and the rest of her family and he is definitely NOT welcome.

Meanwhile, Ryan Quinn is horrified with what he has done. He never wanted to shoot anyone and he has never thought of himself as the racist monster he is being portrayed as. In fact, his police officer father was killed in the line of duty when Ryan was young, so he is accutely aware of the pain caused by losing a loved one to gun violence. Now, Ryan has a decision to make. Should he be loyal to the police and his partner? Or should he follow his heart and his conscience?

I enjoyed this book even more than I had anticipated. I had some idea of how the tale would unfold, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is not a predictable read and author Stephen Clark has created characters of depth and complexity.

In addition to the obvious issue of police shootings, several other social issues are also part of this story. In my opinion, this makes the story seem even more realistic. Police shootings do not happen in a vacuum and there are almost always several factors that contribute to the tragedy.
In DON’T SHOOT, racism by the police is not the only problem. The area in which the shooting takes place is poverty-stricken due to lack of education and employment opportunities, gang violence, a lack of social programs and much more.

On top of the above problems, this story also talks about homelessness, single parenting, divorce, abandonment, addiction, cutting, and even suicide. The author does a fabulous job of describing these issues and how each of them has affected the lives of the characters, and how a single issue can affect different individuals in different ways.

With non-stop action, current events, exquisitely complicated characters and a twisting plot, HANDS UP is a fantastic and must read, newly released novel.

This IS most definitely a book worthy of being on your “To Read” list. In fact, I will not be surprised when HANDS UP becomes an award-winning novel.

I rate this book as 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐ and would like to thank the author for sending me a copy of this book.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the Washington, D.C. bureau of FoxNews.com. As a reporter for the Utica Observer-Dispatch, he won a New York Newspaper Publishers Association Award of Distinguished Community Service for his investigation into the financial struggles of nonprofit services.

He also won a Society of Professional Journalists Award for Investigative Reporting at the Stamford Advocate for his series exposing an elderly grifter’s charity organization.

Stephen grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now lives in North Jersey with his wife and son.

He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Arcadia University and a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

LINKEDIN

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

TALES FROM BEHIND THE WINDOW by Author/Artist EDANUR KUNTMAN is a feast for the eyes and the Soul – AVAILABLE NOW!!!

Title: TALES FROM BEHIND THE WINDOW

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Author/Illustrator: EDANUR KUNTMAN
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Genre: BASED ON A TRUE STORY, GRAPHIC NOVEL, FICTION, WOMEN’S ISSUES, HISTORY

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Length: 168 PAGES

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Publisher: EUROPE COMICS
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Received From: NETGALLEY
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Release Date: AUGUST 14, 2019

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ISBN: 9791032809136

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Price: $10.99 USD (eBook)

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Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Tales from behind the Window” is based on memories of an Anatolian grandmother and women she knew who suffered from male dominance over their lives. Writer and illustrator Edanur Kuntman seeks a unique way to express and give voice to women in her grandmother’s memories and in our reality who were not able to reconcile their inner emotional depth with their rural worlds in Northern Turkey. One long and two short stories included in this book revolve around terrifying emotional burdens such as forced marriages, being betrayed by patriarchs, and lost love, which have haunted and still haunt many in rural Anatolia.

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MY REVIEW:

This graphic novel tells the true stories of three women from the author’s family. Although this book is categorized as fiction, it is based on interviews have the author’s grandmother.

This type of book is important because if we remember the past and the many injustices faced by women, we give them a voice. Those voices remind us of how far society has come and how far we still have to go.

Using the medium of a graphic novel, the author is able to convey emotions much more powerfully than if she had only described them in words.

The use of darker colors and austere illustrations, readers easily see the difference between the vibrant colors of the female illustrations and the grim male based illustrations. This is brilliantly rendered.

I rate TALES FROM BEHIND THE WINDOW as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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*Thank you to #NetGalley and #EuropeComics for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

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***** THE AUTHOR ALSO CREATED an Animated TV Spot created for Down Turkey together with Koff Animation. The goal was to remind people that Down Syndrome is not a disease and people diagnosed with Down Syndrome are capable of working just like the rest of the society. In this project she worked as a character artist and animator.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Edanur Kuntman is an up-and-coming Turkish artist who has been working in animation, illustration, and game design, as well as taking on publishing projects, and has a degree in political science.

She is currently based in Brooklyn, New York, as a visual and game designer.

She is the author of the graphic novel Tales From Behind The Window (Akan Ajans/Marmara Cizgi; Europe Comics in English).

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
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LINKEDIN
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BĒHANCE
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GOODREADS
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INSTAGRAM
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TWITTER
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COMIXOLOGY
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AMAZON
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GOOGLE BOOKS
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CHAPTERS
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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE
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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Europe Comics is a joint digital initiative run by 13 European comics industry players from 8 European countries. Its main purpose is the creation of a pan-European catalog of award-winning graphic novels from across the continent, published digitally in English and available through major retailers and library networks. Europe Comics also works towards the promotion of European authors and the creation of a European comics online directory, meant for both comics readers and professionals.

To find out more about Europe Comics, Visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
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GOODREADS
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TWITTER
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FACEBOOK
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PINTEREST

More Illustrations By The Super-Talented Edanur Kuntman

RED RIVER GIRL: The Life And Death of Tina Fontaine BY Award Winning Journalist and Author JOANNA JOLLY – A 5 STAR LOOK AT ONE MISSING AND MURDERED INDIGENOUS TEEN

Title: RED RIVER GIRL
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Subtitle: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine
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Author: JOANNA JOLLY
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Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME, INDIGENOUS NON-FICTION

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Length: 320 PAGES

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Publisher: VIKING – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA
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Received From: NETGALLEY
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Release Date: AUGUST 27, 2019

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ISBN: 9780735233935

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Price: $16.95 USD (Paperback)

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Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

On August 17, 2014, the body of fifteen-year old runaway Tina Fontaine was found in Winnipeg’s Red River. It was wrapped in material and weighted down with rocks. Red River Girl is a gripping account of that murder investigation and the unusual police detective who pursued the killer with every legal means at his disposal. The book, like the movie Spotlight, will chronicle the behind-the-scenes stages of a lengthy and meticulously planned investigation. It reveals characters and social tensions that bring vivid life to a story that made national headlines.

Award-winning BBC reporter and documentary maker Joanna Jolly delves into the troubled life of Tina Fontaine, the half-Ojibway, half-Cree murder victim, starting with her childhood on the Sagkeeng First Nation Reserve. Tina’s journey to the capital city is a harrowing one, culminating in drug abuse, sexual exploitation, and death.

Aware of the reality of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Jolly has chronicled Tina Fontaine’s life as a reminder that she was more than a statistic. Raised by her father, and then by her great-aunt, Tina was a good student. But the violent death of her father hit Tina hard. She ran away, was found and put into the care of Child and Family Services, which she also sought to escape from. That choice left her in danger.

Red River Girl focuses not on the grisly event itself, but on the efforts to seek justice. In December 2015, the police charged Raymond Cormier, a drifter, with second-degree murder. Jolly’s book will cover the trial, which resulted in an acquittal. The verdict caused dismay across the country.

The book is not only a true crime story, but a portrait of a community where Indigenous women are disproportionately more likely to be hurt or killed. Jolly asks questions about how Indigenous women, sex workers, community leaders, and activists are fighting back to protect themselves and change perceptions. Most importantly, the book will chronicle whether Tina’s family will find justice.

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THIS BOOK IS ON THE TORONTO STAR’S TOP TEN BESTSELLER LIST
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MY REVIEW:

As proud as I am to be Canadian, there are many things I wish I could change. There are even things that make me ashamed of my country and one of those things is how Indigenous people have historically been treated. Even more horrifying is that although it is finally improving, at least in some areas, Indigenous people still face an unconsciounable amount of racial discrimination to this very day. This racism and discrimination is not limited to Canada, and is a Continent-Wide issue.

The reason I bring up racism is because it is definitely a factor of Tina Fontaine’s disappearance and murder as chronicled in RED RIVER GIRL.

Police map of missing limbs in the Red River – Photo obtained from the BBC

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Author Joanna Jolly has researched Tina Fontaine’s life from childhood up to, and even after her death. I believe that Joanna Jolly’s experience as not only a journalist and author, but also as a documentary film maker has culminated in a book that must be read. She does not shy away from disclosing the horror that Tina experienced in her short fifteen years of life. Not does she gloss over the cultural stigma Tina lived with every day of her life.

This book not only highlights the life and death of Tina Fontaine, it also highlights the excellent investigative skills shown by the dogged police detective who pulled out all the stops to find Tina’s killer and to bring him to justice. However, that was not to be.

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When killer Raymond Cormier’s trial ended up with him being acquitted, people across Canada (myself included) were both outraged and dismayed. The only positive that came from that trial was the spotlight that was shone on the horrific epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

If you care about the truth, if you care about our Indigenous population, if you want to be more informed regarding Indigenous homelessness, as well as other related topics, you need to buy a copy of this book.

I rate RED RIVER GIRL as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*** Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

Thelma Favel – Tina’s Great Aunt

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JOANNA JOLLY

Joanna Jolly is a multi-award winning former BBC South Asia Editor and documentary film maker. Over the past decade, she has reported from Jerusalem, Brussels, Kathmandu, Washington DC and Delhi. Red River Girl is her debut novel. In 2016, she was a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Represented by Susanna Lea Associates on behalf of Toby Mundy Associates

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

CBC BOOKS

PULITZER CENTER

HARVARD

KOBO

TWITTER

GLOSE.COM

STRONG NATIONS.COM

AMAZON

MUCKRACK.COM

CHAPTERS

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PUBLISHER LINKS:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

PINTEREST

ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY by Emmy Award Winning Canadian Actor and Author JOANNE VANNICOLA – If you only read one book this year, make sure it is this one. 5+ Stars – Compelling, Heart-rending, and Emotional. This is a MUST READ.

Title: ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY
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Author: JOANNE VANNICOLA
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Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, MENTAL HEALTH, CANADIAN NON-FICTION, LGBTQIA

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Length: 232 PAGES

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Publisher: DUNDURN PRESS
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Received From: NETGALLEY
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Release Date: JUNE 25, 2019

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ISBN: 9781459744226

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Price: $19.99 USD

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Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Joanne Vannicola grew up in a violent home with a physically abusive father and a mother who had no sexual boundaries.

After Joanne is pressured to leave home at fourteen, encouraged by her mother to seek out an acting career, she finds herself in a strange city, struggling to cope with her memories and fears. She makes the decision to cut her mother out of her life, and over the next several years goes on to create a body of work as a successful television and film actor. Then, after fifteen years of estrangement, Joanne learns that her mother is dying. Compelled to reconnect, she visits with her, unearthing a trove of devastating secrets.

Joanne relates her journey from child performer to Emmy Award–winning actor, from hiding in the closet to embracing her own sexuality, from conflicted daughter and sibling to independent woman. All We Knew But Couldn’t Say is a testament to survival, love, and Joanne’s fundamental belief that it is possible to love the broken, and to love fully, even with a broken heart.

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MY REVIEW:

*** WARNING – TRIGGER WARNING***

This book contains scenes of child sexual abuse and physical abuse of children. If any of these topics cause emotional triggers for you, I strongly suggest you do not read this book.
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There are many memoirs that contain disturbing subject matter and ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY is no exception. However, the difference between other memoirs and that of Canadian Joanne Vannicola is that Joanne somehow managed to live through her horrific childhood and yet still emerge into adulthood full of compassion for others. Rather than allow her abusers to keep her ‘small,’ she has gone on to have a phenomenal career. To my way of thinking, Joanne being happy and successful is the best revenge. Her strength and determination are a big “F” you to her abusers. She didn’t let them win.

Not only that, but she has also become an advocate for LGBTQ youth. According to Joanne, “[Her] role meant [Joanne] could impact their lives, provide a little hope for others even though [she] still hadn’t learned to hold on to it [herself]…and it provided a deeper purpose…”

Joanne says in the book:
“I could not erase my own pain, but if I could help other kids, it meant healing was possible.”

This memoir is powerful. It is horrific in parts, especially when readers learn how Joanne was treated as a child, but it also includes some wonderful and touching moments and shows the power of friendship.

I do not want to give away too much with my review because I am hoping that everyone who reads this review runs out to buy/pre-order a copy of ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY.

YES, this book will make you shake in anger at the people who were supposed to love Joanne the most, but who turned out to be the perpetrators of her abuse, BUT I BELIEVE THIS IS A BOOK THAT NEEDS TO BE READ.

There are children suffering at this very moment, and people who see these things happening are often afraid to call Children’s Aid in case they are wrong. BUT … What if a child dies or suffers irreparable harm because you did not make that simple phone call? How would you feel? Could you ever forgive yourself?

PLEASE MAKE THE CALL. If it is determined that there was no abuse, then you can rest easy knowing you did the right thing. A bit of embarrassment is nothing when a child’s life and/or his/her mental health is on the line.

This book is not only about abuse. It is also about growing up and trying to come to terms with your sexuality. Joanne came of age not too long ago, but it was long ago enough that being gay, bisexual, trans, or queer was not acceptable to society at large. In fact, the phrase “non-binary” did not even exist. People kept their sexual orientations quiet and this fact made Joanne question what exactly was “wrong” with her. This memoir follows her journey from questioning her sexuality to accepting it and to become an advocate and role model for other LGBTQ youth.

Joanne’s life has been full of pain and agony, but it has also been a life filled with many triumphs, including her winning the her battle with anorexia.

I could go on and on about how amazing Joanne Vannicola is (all based on her book as I have not met her yet.) Instead, I will encourage everyone reading this review to pre-order her book immediately. Don’t wait to do it. Order it immediately. You will not be disappointed. ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY is a 5+ Star Book and you will continue to think about Joanne and her life long after the final page has been read. It is impossible not to. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Joanne Vannicola is an Emmy award-winning Canadian actor and writer, who has been working in film, television, and theatre since she was eight years old. She has also been nominated for a Genie, a Gemini, and an ACTRA award.

Joanne is a long-time advocate for the LGBTQ community and has an essay in the anthology Cuarenta y Nueve, a book by 49 artists for the 49 victims of the Orlando Pulse club massacre. She is the Chair of the first LGBTQ+ committee for the actors union, ACTRA, and sits on the sexual assault ad-hoc committee at ACTRA for women in film and television.

Joanne’s forthcoming memoir, All We Knew but Couldn’t Say (Dundurn Press) will be available 1 June 2019.

She is a recipient of the Ontario Arts Council Grant in 2016—Writer’s Works in Progress for her memoir. Joanne was selected for the Diaspora Dialogues Program in 2013 and worked with author David Layton for six months. Her short screenplay His Name Was Steven, was selected for the Queer Ideas Screenplay competition.

Joanne founded the non-profit organization, Youth Out Loud, between 2004-2009, to raise awareness about child abuse and sexual violence.

Equity issues have always been at the forefront of Joanne’s work both in her artistic world and in her personal/political life and she is very passionate about youth, women, and LGBTQ equity and rights.

To learn more about Joanne Vannicola visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
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OFFICIAL AUTHOR WEBSITE
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BLOG
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GOODREADS
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FACEBOOK
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INSTAGRAM
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DUNDURN PRESS ON INSTAGRAM

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TWITTER
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DUNDURN PRESS TWITTER

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IMDb

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AMAZON
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CHAPTERS
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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE
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WANT TO ATTEND THE OFFICIAL BOOK LAUNCH???

WANT TO MEET JOANNE IN PERSON?

WANT TO HAVE YOUR BOOK SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR?

SIGN UP FOR FREE TO ATTEND HER OFFICIAL BOOK LAUNCH HERE

****This book is my “A” entry in the GingerMom’s 2019 A to Z Reading Challenge****


MAID by Stephanie Land will be released in January of 2019. Mark your calendars. This is one book you don’t want to miss.

Title: MAID

Subtitle: HARD WORK, LOW PAY, AND A MOTHER’S WILL TO SURVIVE

Author: STEPHANIE LAND

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS

Length: 288 PAGES

Publisher: HACHETTE BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JANUARY 22, 2019

ISBN: 9780316505116

Price: $27.00 USD (HARDCOVER)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land’s memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Includes a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich.

While the gap between upper middle-class Americans and the working poor widens, grueling low-wage domestic and service work–primarily done by women–fuels the economic success of the wealthy. Stephanie Land worked for years as a maid, pulling long hours while struggling as a single mom to keep a roof over her daughter’s head. In Maid, she reveals the dark truth of what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s inequitable society.

While she worked hard to scratch her way out of poverty as a single parent, scrubbing the toilets of the wealthy, navigating domestic labor jobs, higher education, assisted housing, and a tangled web of government assistance, Stephanie wrote. She wrote the true stories that weren’t being told. The stories of overworked and underpaid Americans.

Written in honest, heart-rending prose and with great insight, Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it’s like to be in service to them. “I’d become a nameless ghost,” Stephanie writes. With this book, she gives voice to the “servant” worker, those who fight daily to scramble and scrape by for their own lives and the lives of their children.

MY REVIEW:

There are some books, when you finish reading them, you realize that you have just experienced something profoundly important. MAID is one of these rare gems.

Stephanie Land tells the story of her life as an impoverished single mother. This is NOT a story that takes place during the Great Depression of the 1930s, it is a true story taking place in modern day America.

What struck me most about this memoir was Stephanie’s ability to tell the story in a matter of fact way and to somehow detach herself from the emotions she must have inevitably felt while writing – all the while ensuring that she conveyed those same feelings to the reader. This ability proves Stephanie Land is a rare talent. If I did not know better, I would have thought this was the author’s fifth or sixth published work and not her debut book.

This is NOT a tale of ‘poor me.’ Stephanie does not whine about the state of her finances or the shabby conditions she lived in. She may have been poor, but she was not just sitting around collecting welfare and living the high life, which is a stereotype that is pervasive throughout society.

Reading this book will open people’s eyes to a situation all too common in America today. That is the plight of the “working poor.”

I have heard many people say that those who are receiving government assistance are all lazy and are living the high life thanks to the government. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Yes, I am sure that some people are gaming the system, but the vast majority are people who need a hand up, not a hand out. They are working, but their income is insufficient to pay their bills.

This book should be required reading for everyone who has ever made a comment about people on welfare. It should definitely be required reading for politicians at all levels of government from municipal leaders all the way up to the President. Maybe, just maybe, this would open their eyes to the reality of the lives of many of their constituents.

MAID is written in such a way that it is a book you will not want to put down. Just because it is a true story does not make it a boring read. In fact, it is anything but.

Stephanie’s dream of becoming a writer has come true and the world is better off because of it.

I rate MAID as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you only read one non-fiction memoir this year, make sure it is this one. You will be glad you did.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stephanie Land’s work has been featured in the New York Times, New York Review of Books, Washington Post, Guardian; Vox, Salon, and many other outlets.

She focuses on social and economic justice as a writing fellow through both the Center for Community Change and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Her memoir, MAID: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, is forthcoming through editor Krishan Trotman at Hachette Books, featuring a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich, on January 29, 2019.

She lives in Missoula, Montana, with her two daughters.

To learn more about this author and her wonderfully written debut memoir, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

LINKEDIN

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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